Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus throughout the globe Formula One’s 2020 Australian Grand Prix was officially cancelled, after a McLaren member tested positive for coronavirus, the 2020 Chinese Grand Prix was already postponed after the strain of novel coronavirus was believed to have originated in the country, while the spread increases globally further races may be cancelled. but these will not be the first cancelled races in Formula 1. these are a few cancellations from Formula One’s past.
The Bahrain Grand Prix
The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled to be that year season opener, but on the 14th of February 2011 a number of uprisings took place across the Middle East and North Africa, known as the Arab Spring. as numerous citizens protested against oppressive regimes and a poor quality of life, with that in mind and Bahrain one such country experiencing civil unrest the race was postponed until the end of the season, the plan was to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix to the 30th of October in the process moved the Indian Grand Prix to a December slot.
But unhappy with the logistics involved and the seeming disregard for the human rights implications the formal one teams association FOTA the plan. Bahrain GP officials then subsequently dropped any plans to host the race that year, instead waiting for its reinstatement in 2012.
The Chinese Grand Prix
The 2020 Chinese Grand Prix is not the first race in China to be cancelled, the nation was penciled in for its inaugural F1 race back in 1999. back then the F1 former chief Bernie Ecclestone announced in 1998, that the Zhuhai international circuit was to host a Grand Prix on the 21st of March, which would make it the second round of the 1999 calendar.
But just months after its announcement f1 announced that the Chinese Grand Prix would no longer go ahead, as the FIA had been insufficiently impressed by the facilities of the circuit, which needed work if it was to appear on the following year’s calendar. however this never happened and China had to wait until the 2004 season to get its first Grand Prix, held at Shanghai. although jacques villeneuve like the Zhuhai circuit describing it as similar to the spielberg circuit in austria we never got the chance to see it in f1 action.
The Argentine Grand Prix
Another race supposed to be on the 1999 calendar was the Argentine Grand Prix, but unlike China it had been a mainstay on the f1 schedule, after the Argentine Great Depression which began in late 1998 the organisers of the race were feeling the pinch and were unable to match the funding, that China promised to host the race.
But as we’ve previously mentioned the Zhuhai race was cancelled and the Argentine Grand Prix was reinstated to the calendar, with provisional March 28th slot pending talks with promoters and Formula One. but by the end of January the Argentine Grand Prix was also knocked off the calendar, after Formula One was unable to come to an agreement.
The race that the Buenos Aires circuit was deemed not financially viable, as several upgrades were requested but not ultimately produced, the 1998 Argentine Grand Prix then was the last f1 race held in Argentina. and although efforts were made to organize a street race in Mar del Plata at the 2013 season, but it never came to fruition.
The Portugal Estoril Grand Prix
Estoril in 1997 having been on the calendar for over a decade Estoril was one of the more scruffy venues on the f1 schedule. and the FIA had been badgering the circuit owners for years to make some upgrades but when the FIA formally requested a few safety changes, Estoril owners scoffed after all they’ve been on the calendar for years without having to make any renovations.
But in response F1 called its bluff and pulled Estoril off the calendar, replacing it with the Jerez circuit in Spain. the caveat was that if Estoril could make the safety changes required the FIA offered it a slot on the calendar on the 9th of November. But the fixes weren’t made in time.
South Africa Grand Prix
Despite the backdrop of apartheid South Africa was due to host the season opener of the 1981 Formula One season. however the year began under the cloud of political wrangling between governing body FISA led by jean-marie balestre, and the Constructors Association Foca led by Bernie Ecclestone. FISA wanted to change the date of the season opening race Kyle army to April the 11th, two months after the original February 7th date that had been previously agreed.
Foca consisting largely of the British teams on the grid, also had an agreement with Kyle armies management for the February date, leaving the two governing bodies in a little bit of a pickle.
The race wasn’t canceled but it was run as a Formula Libre race rather than a Formula One race, meaning that it didn’t have to adhere to the 1981 regulations, which had heavily restricted ground-effect aerodynamics.
The Foca teams ran at Kyalami with all their bells and whistles in a non championship race, won by Williams driver Carlos Reutemann. but the race was ultimately stricken from the F1 record beforehand. but with the threats of coronavirus rapidly spreading worldwide more races may be cancelled this season.